Summer Is Over
Labor Day weekend. The last long weekend before the holidays. After this break, kids are for sure back in school with lots of work. Fall activities are underway. Businesses are gearing up for the end of year. Farmers are thinking about harvest. And some of the crazy planners are already shopping for Christmas. You know who you are!
Yes, after Labor Day weekend, we don’t get a ton of time for kicking back and hanging out. Summer is officially over. We must keep our nose to the grind stone and just make it til Thanksgiving. As I’ve been watching my project timelines line up, I’m getting anxious. It’s pretty clear that days off won’t really be an option during this September through mid-November stint. So, why not have one last hurrah before this “race”?
When the leaders of our Lifegroup presented the potential of a Labor Day weekend vacation a few months ago, I was interested, but not sold. We’d only been a group for a couple of months at that point, and I wasn’t sure about taking the plunge and spending 3-4 days with them, far from home, not to mention a 7 hour car ride with a few of them. But, a weekend away in Branson, MO was very appealing.
Seth and I agreed to commit to this trip and as the weeks went on, we grew more excited for the weekend away with this fun group we were growing to love. We made plans to ride down with one couple. Two couples unfortunately had to decline the invite. The others would be meeting us there, one leaving earlier, one later. The ladies had many group chats discussing meals, activities and packing lists for the weekend. Sounds pretty familiar right? Girls like to plan! As the planning continued, my excitement for the trip mounted.
The week of the trip, I lost track of life… I had planned the launch of this blog the day before we left. What was I thinking?! Between work, cleaning, blogging, customizing my site, packing and regular life commitments, I was worn thin the week prior. But, what better way to head out on vacation right? Yeah, that’s what I told myself. However, when I got in the car that Friday morning, I felt like I could breathe. That’s a good sign 🙂
Departure is Near
Finally, it’s Labor Day weekend. Get this. Seth was all packed the NIGHT BEFORE. He was ready to go the whole morning and we were late because of me. Did you hear that Seth? It was my fault! Before I even got in the car, I spent some time in quiet with God. This time is imperative every day, but especially today. Before we head out on vacation, out of our routine, with other married couples.
I didn’t pray for us to have the best time, for good weather or for everything to work out perfectly. I did pray for the safety of all of our party on the road, but my focus was on asking for help in having no expectations. Not of my husband. Not of the couple riding with us or of anyone who would be there. I asked for help being nice. When I finished, I felt surprisingly calm and ready to head out of the house and to be with others.
This is Missouri
It is quite a drive to Branson, so I planned for the occasion. I’m not one to waste time; my road bag was chock full of books to read, colored pencils, a notebook, my planner, a computer. I’d hate to miss an opportunity to be productive! However, most of the items went unused; us girls are talkers! We passed the time chatting about anything and everything and it was wonderful. Our husbands really enjoyed it too 🙂
When driving through Kansas City, it’s a must to stop for BBQ — so we did. We found the perfect hole-in-the-wall with the most amazing food! We stuffed ourselves silly, which was probably not the best idea as we got back in the car to finish the last leg of the trip, but Seth managed to power through. Construction prevented us from making good time, but don’t worry me and the wife kept the boys plenty entertained!
Upon arrival, we were ready for our adventure to begin. We unpacked quickly, changed and headed out to Branson Landing! Girls and boys rode separate and we had a blast oooing and ahhing without annoying anyone. Our “chauffeur” for the trip, whose house we were staying at, was amazing! She put many boys to shame with how well she handled the car. Check out this road she has to drive to get us home after each outing!
We had a nice dinner at a wonderfully decorated bar. The girls marveled over the farmhouse style furniture and wall art. It was quite impressive. As we all gathered around the table, I couldn’t help but find myself a bit nervous. Here we were with our Lifegroup, a group we met in church, and I wasn’t sure how to behave. Not that I have a terribly language or very crud humor, but how can we continue as a group should I say something to offend someone. Remember, we’ve only be a Lifegroup for 4 1/2 months.
Although he didn’t know it, Seth helped me a ton by just being himself. His humor calmed my nerves and got the group laughing. Thankfully, there were no awkward moments. We were all on the same page. I could feel the tension in my shoulders melted away and I settled in. It seemed like we were able to just be ourselves and be in the moment. It became clear, pretty quickly, that this group fit well together. There was plenty of laughter, teasing, agreement and joyful attitudes that put me at ease and I had the sense this weekend would be great. Heck we even broke some rules by standing in the “walkway” and danced to 70s music!
We got our Saturday started early. Baking a casserole, pleading with the coffee pot to produce faster, and getting acquainted with being around new friends first thing in the morning. As we each went about our tasks/waking up, the walls and floor started to rumble. I didn’t even skip a beat as I mixed together the sausage and potatoes; I was thinking it felt like when a trash truck goes down our alley and shakes our house a bit. Didn’t dawn on me that we were high up in the hills and there was very little traffic on this road. And the rumbling didn’t stop.
Interrupting my thoughts one of the boys said, “Do you guys feel that?! I think this is an earthquake!” That snapped me back to reality. What is happening?! We are in Missouri! I quickly stepped out on the deck and couldn’t feel anything (I learned while living in California that you don’t feel earthquakes as much outside). That was all the confirmation I needed to know that we were in fact experiencing an earthquake!
As we regrouped and reflected on what just happened, the boys started investigating. Facebook. Always a reliable resource 🙂 We learned that our friends and family back home, and in surrounding cities also felt the rumbles. The earthquake we thought we experienced was actually in Pawnee, OK (5.8 on the Richter scale), but was felt in Missouri and all the way up in Nebraska too! Already starting this trip off with some good stories!
Jam Packed Saturday
Yes, this is a couples’ trip, but I was personally excited for these boys to get some time together without the wives around. So why not go shopping, right? 🙂 Another one of their favorite things that we do. It was a great bonding time for us and we learned more that our hubbies are a lot alike. We wandered through an Amish country store along with a few boutiques. Then we hit the outlets! The tone changed once the boys joined. When asked how they spent their morning, they told us they discussed a few topics and then sat in silence for about 45 minutes. Of course we girls asked “How weird was that?!” And they each shrugged. Not weird at all. Boys are so strange! We quickly wrapped up our excursion to move on to the next activity — Table Rock Lake!
As we arrived back at the house to change, we got word that the last couple would be arriving shortly. Then off to Table Rock for some lake time. It was wonderfully relaxing and we couldn’t have asked for a better day to be in the water. However, we would have liked the water a little warmer 🙂
Finally, it was game time! Even though we were not in Nebraska for the first game, we had every intention of cheering on our Huskers. We headed to a bar and grabbed a table. We were soon joined by many more Huskers and felt right at home. Food, friends and football. We couldn’t ask for a better night! Wait, yes we could: we also won the game!
SILVER DOLLAR CITY
Sunday was our scheduled day for Silver Dollar City, Branson’s amusement park. We headed to the park early, but the crowds beat us. There was a long wait just to turn into the park! Once parked, we walked almost a mile to the gates. Our pace increased; people were excited. Another line for tickets, but we were almost there!
Inside the park, our leader beelined for the first rollercoaster. With my short legs, I was practically RUNNING to keep up! Even in our late 20s, early 30s, this group was proving to be a bunch of kids at heart. I couldn’t stop smiling!
Not everyone in our crew rode all the rides, but thankfully, they were willing to snap some photos of those of us who did. Seth and I can’t get enough of rollercoasters, so we road everything together, it was a hoot!
At the end of the day, my face hurt from smiling so much and my voice was hoarse from screaming on the rides. The ol’ Apple Watch told me we walked 6 miles, but Seth’s FitBit said 16K steps (equaling closer to 8 miles). Regardless, we got our steps in today for sure! We were all worn out, slightly sunburned, sweaty and ready for naps! Which we did right when we got back to the house.
Our evening consisted of making dinner, laughing, discussing, eating, and lots of relaxing. Oh and Jenga. That was the boys and it was intense! I think it’s safe to say the boys bonded this weekend which made my heart so happy! I loved watching them interact and play together. I continue to learn how different boys and girls are. While the girls for the most part bonded very quickly, months ago, boys again take more time to warm up. This vacation seemed to be just what they needed to grow closer.
As we parted ways the next morning, I felt sad. I was ready to go home, but I wasn’t ready to leave this magical weekend with these wonderful people. When I said I prayed to have no expectations, it really worked for me. I saw myself be relaxed and laid back this weekend. Each activity we did, I was happy to participate, regardless of how I felt about it. This was an easy group to be with, which I didn’t see coming.
“Make plans, don’t plan results.” This line is often in my head. And often ignored. But this group of people really helped me experience this for what it is. The girls made some great plans to give the weekend structure. But outside of that, there was little stress. I felt so refreshed coming back from this trip, which shocked me since it was such a busy few days.
Praise God that He truly knows what we need and when. And when I can get out of the way, and open my hands, rather than holding so tightly to this world, I can receiving the amazing gifts He has for me. I learned a lot about these individuals whom Seth and I have agreed to do life with. What a joy to go through a weekend and say, Yes! I still like all of you. I don’t know about anyone else, but that has not always been my experience, and I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of crumbling relationships after too much time together. No, not this time. The bond has been solidified and we will continue on this journey together.
Who Are These People?
You might be asking some questions: what is a Lifegroup? How did you become a part of one? Why would you be in one? All great questions that I found myself asking not long ago… And now I’m thinking I need to tell that story. So thank you for this thought and more to come on how this became part of our life.